We live in disruptive times of constant change. Change has become an irreversible part of every company’s life cycle. Leaders often need to think about how to best engage people in their teams and not lose the most valuable talents from them, while making the long run toward the next challenging goal. Still, after so much done, companies lose their top talents and cannot do anything about that.
Nowadays, people in the teams are not working as a mechanical creature with a focus on the tasks. They see themselves as a living person with unique understandings, personal positions on most of the topics, concerning team success and change agents, able to transform teams’ internal realities. HR Departments and senior Leadership teams face so many challenges that in some cases top leaders’ behaviors can vary from mostly acceptable and admired to not acceptable and toxic for the team morale and productivity. Mid-level leaders have the tuff task to balance between senior leadership attitudes, decisions, and vision and employees’ understandings of how to contribute to the greater good in the company.
But change must be done from the top to the bottom of the company. The leading by example model has become a norm, and employees now need to see that example to decide if they want to contribute to the wider company goals or not.
One of the top priorities of every leader involved in company goals achievement has become to create positive employee experience as a tool to retain talents and achieve department and company goals.
In a Harvard Business Review article from 2018, the researchers have found that even the best companies struggle to retain talent and lose 38 % of their talents before these people can take over a more challenging role. One of the major challenges that leaders share within this research is that they do not know how to create a positive employee experience and use it to retain people in the teams and company.
Here are 7 simple steps to help every leader achieve its unachievable goal of creating positive employee experience as a part of the wide company perspective:
Ensure modeling near to perfect behavior always
What people want to see is a model they can follow to succeed. As part of the leader’s responsibility comes out, it is important to build that model of “perfect” behaviors, aligned with company mission, vision, and values. This type of alignment creates security about personal choices made for the employees, first why to join, then why to stay and at the end why to not live you
Utilize journey mapping
Most probably you have them in your team – people who do not see the reason why they are working here and express it openly in front of others. That hurts morale in your team and can be a reason for creating internal conflicts. What people need in most cases is an end goal and a road they must walk to get there. It is important to create meaning through a clear journey map for their role in the team. Show them how their responsibilities create something wider and better, show them what path they have to walk to change the environment and themselves, show them why they need to change and how this will impact their future selves. This is like the traditional career paths, but you must focus here on creating not hierarchical steps, but emotional milestones for the employee.
Improve internal communication
Gallup International research conducted in the period 2017-2019 showed that 47% of the employees quit before of lack of internal communication in the team and with the leader. Internal communication is a deal-breaking milestone. We are social animals, we need to talk to each other, but more than ever we need to be heard. Poor in-team and in-organization communication can cause people to close themselves, isolate, and become frustrated. The best in class companies invest in building an internal communication model that involves each employee and creates an internal environment that supports two-way communication and internal recognition for being active. It is why leaders need to focus on thinking about how to create this environment to ensure positive communication and avoid frustrating situations and hidden anger, discourage, and disengagement.
Implement “stay” interviews
Most leaders misunderstand this one. Stay interviews are not counteroffers. If you have got to the point where the employee has lost it’s internal motivation and engagement to the company or the team you have already killed its passion for achieving results and have pushed them to the point of no return. In this situation, most leaders stand back and try to not interact with the toxic person leaving to betray the team. Instead of taking this negative approach, be active, and ask on feedback. Collecting the information from someone who does not have anything to lose can help you improve team morale and boost positive employee experience with the staying team members, who may be afraid to share what they think.
Be active on employee feedback
I have heard it many times when I walked into a company, trying to help leaders create a better environment. He/she left, told the leader everything, but nothing has changed. If you want to create a positive employee experience you need to focus not only on collecting feedback but analyzing it and acting on it. People are sensitive creatures. If we do not see any actions on the information given, we start imagining dark scenarios. The successful leader can and acts on employees’ feedback and can create ongoing communication pattern for informing employees on what is planned, what is achieved and what is on its way
Offer real career development
As the family has children, the leader has its team. One of the most fulfilling things the leader can do is to plan and support employee development. Employee development is often seen as limited by the company structure and hierarchy. But to offer development does not only mean to offer vertical growth. The development has different forms. The leader’s job is to be creative and help employees learn and grow. By thinking on how to help employees grow, without sticking to the company’s obvious limitations, every leader can create a positive attitude, strong engagement to the job, a high level of accountability toward the challenges, loyalty, and positive experience within the employee.
Invest in employee welfare
Leaders are supporters. This role of the leader must be seen in every possible aspect of the employee life. Several years ago, I worked for a multinational company. One of the heads of departments was a lady who clearly showed that she cares only about herself. She walked out of the office right on time, leaving her teamwork late, She didn’t inform them all on decisions that can affect their work, She has built an internal alliance with part of the team members working against others she didn’t like so much. At the end of the annual engagement survey, her team scored the lowest results in the company. What she did is to ask them to come together and explain why they scored it so low, but still with the tone of accusing people that they have betrayed her. After that, almost 30% of her team quit or relocated to different teams and managers. The learning here was that that lady lived by her example, without giving others the chance to do the same. A good leader shows respect to everyone is needs and specifics and tries to do what possible to ensure that people can maintain a healthy balance between workload and personal stuff. He cares not only on the tasks but also on its people’s mental health and balance to ensure long term positive employee experience and sustain a high level of engagement and accountability toward work.
There is no right or wrong when you try to build a positive employee experience. What is important is not to follow a structured model, worked somewhere else, but to create flexible behavior in line with the team specifics and needs. Then and only then the leader creates real meaningful positive employee experience that connects people in the team with the company mission, vision, and values and ensures high-level accountability, trust, and loyalty.